There’s a powerful saying, “When you educate a man, you educate a man but when you educate a woman, you educate a generation”. This is because of the benefits of educating girls permeates the entire family and have far-reaching impacts on the entire society. Women make up for almost half of the total population of India but they still lag behind men in a lot of areas. It is harrowing to note that a lot of females are not even allowed to be born. Many of those who are fortunate enough to see this world is denied of some of their most basic rights: quality education and healthcare. Many are married off in their teenage. Over the last many years, a significant fraction of a number of women has been at the receiving end of discrimination and exploitation. Needless to say, it should be government’s top priority to empower women in a country like India that has witnessed male domination for years.
Women upliftment is nearly impossible if issues like illiteracy, inequality, sexual harassment and female infanticide are not combated in the right manner. The year 2015 saw the launch of a flagship scheme by the Government of India, ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (Save daughters, educate daughters). The scheme aims to beget awareness regarding the waning Child Sex Ratio (CSR), apart from perking up the efficiency of several welfare schemes that have been rolled-out for women. The programme is being administered through a well-framed national campaign and a focussed multi-sectorial effort in 100 districts having a shallow CSR.
As Census data lays down, in the year 2001 the child sex Ratio in India (0-6 years) was a mere 927 girls per 1,000 boys, which further declined in 2011 to a staggering 918 girls for every 1,000 boys. To address this dwindling CSR is one of the core intentions of this scheme and it is garnering massive support from NGOs like Save the Children who are already doing pioneering work in fostering girl child education and welfare. NGOs work through the support of philanthropic individuals, many of whom donate online to contribute to the good of the society.
‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ is a collaborative initiative being run by Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and it covers all Indian states and union territories. The scheme has three primary objectives:
1. Prevent female infanticide
The steep downfall in the CSR is a prime indicator of women disempowerment in the country. CSR puts a light on the pre-birth discrimination on the basis of gender that manifests in the form of unacceptable practice of female infanticide. Convergent efforts by government agencies and NGOs are crucial to ensure survival, safety, and empowerment of the fairer sex. Under the scheme, district authorities are required to effectively monitor and ensure that the use of sex-determination tools by families and doctors lead to stringent action by law. Several healthcare centers indulging in such practices have been sealed owing to this programme. Parents, families, doctors and the community at large are being oriented to not resort to sex-determination during pregnancy.
2. Devise new schemes and work cohesively to ensure that every girl child is secured and protected
BBBP programme is being implemented with the full commitment of government officials across the country. These officials are working in close coordination with each other in order to ensure survival, well-being, security and education of the girl children. The government has been actively working to converge BBBP with other schemes that have been implemented for the well-being of girls in India. Several sub-schemes have also been rolled out as a part of the umbrella BBBP scheme. For instance, Sukanya Samriddhi scheme is a small savings scheme wherein the parents of a girl or a legal guardian can open dedicated savings account for her in any post office or in some of the authorized commercial banks. One needs to make a contribution to the scheme for the first 14 years only. In the remaining seven years one will earn interest from the scheme without depositing.
3. Ensure every girl child gets a quality education
This is a very significant aspect of the BBBP scheme. Right to Education Act, 2010 entitles every child the right to free education till the completion of elementary education in a neighborhood school. Unfortunately, the Act does not see its proper implementation in letter and spirit. If the girls are educated properly, they will grow up to be self-empowered individuals, better equipped to take their socio-economic decisions in their own and society’s best interests. Under the BBBP scheme, district-level education officials have to ensure that the benefit of free elementary education reaches all the girls in their areas. There is active involvement of schools and other grassroots – level organizations in this. The school management committees that are able to achieve 100% transition of girl students at various educational levels are awarded under the BBBP scheme.
The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme is a praiseworthy initiative by the Government of India to address the issues revolving around girl children in India, right from the time they aren’t even born to them turning adults. Apart from generating global headlines, the initiatives under the scheme have started bearing fruit as the level of awareness among the masses to work for girl child upliftment is increasing. An assessment of the scheme is due in July 2016. The success of this scheme will add tremendously to the economic growth of the nation. This is because to march ahead, India cannot afford to have a large part of its population remain neglected and marginalized.
As responsible members of the society, it is our duty as well to contribute to the betterment of girl children. One can donate for the education of marginalized girls to NGOs working in that area and strengthen the cause. Remember, donation and tax benefits go hand-in-hand.